Thomas Duve: Tenth Anniversary at the MPIeR

September 01, 2019

Today Thomas Duve can look back on his first decade as Director of the Institute. His arrival coincided with a radical and massive reorientation of the Institute’s research agenda, aiming to embed European legal history in its broader context, both geographically and with regard to its object of study.

Geographically, Europe is seen as one of the world regions whose legal history cannot be studied in isolation of the others. While Duve’s focus was originally on the Iberian-American world, he has recently developed an interest in other territories and their encounters with the laws of Spain and Portugal, from the early modern period onwards. European legal history is therefore constantly explored in a global perspective.

However, Duve has also made an important contribution as to the object of the discipline of legal history. Trained as a canon lawyer, he is particularly sensitive to the intimate relationship of law and religion, most importantly moral theology. He therefore advances a vision of law as only one of the normative settings that, in their entirety, constitute complex ‘multinormative’ societies. As a result, his work is of a strongly interdisciplinary nature and therefore also of interest to those working in the fields of legal theory and socio-legal studies.

A short note like the present one cannot do justice to the richness of publications, initiatives and projects that have emanated from ‘Department II’ since Duve was appointed as its head. Suffice it to say, not least because of the move into the new building he oversaw in 2013, Duve’s tenure has marked a radical departure for the Institute, and this new path has met with great interest all across Europe and beyond, not least in the Americas and in East Asia.

No pressure, Thomas, but expectations for the second decade of your Directorship are not exactly low!

Stefan Vogenauer

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